Senegal will begin the defence of their Africa Cup of Nations title Monday January 15, 2024, when they play against Gambia at Stade Charles Konan Banny de Yamoussoukro.
Group C looks like it could be one of the most competitive in the competition, featuring five-time champions Cameroon, Guinea, who play each other at this venue directly after the conclusion of this match.
Since Egypt claimed their third consecutive title back in 2010, no team has managed to defend the AFCON trophy, but Senegal comes into this year’s competition as the favourites.
In the history of the competition, only three nations have managed to successfully retain the AFCON title: Egypt (1957, 1959; 2006, 2008, 2010), Ghana (1963, 1965) and Cameroon (2000, 2002).
Despite a slow start in the 2021 continental competition, which included scoring just one goal and playing out two goalless draws in the group stages, Senegal shed the tag of underachievers by winning the tournament at the expense of Egypt.
Since then, the Teranga Lions have gone from strength to strength, boasting a star-studded team that features the likes of Nicolas Jackson, Serge Aurier, Kalidou Koulibaly and the two-time African Player of the Year, Sadio Mane.
Despite significant changes in recent months, Aliou Cisse’s side come into the tournament in excellent shape, winning six of their last 10 matches in all competitions and losing only once in that time.
Senegal and Gambia last met in the African Nations Cup back in 2015, which Senegal won 1#0, and with that result, they maintained their unbeaten record against Gambia that dates back to 2008.
Gambia will get their tournament started as the biggest outsiders and the lowest-ranked team in Group C, currently in 29th place among 53 African countries.
The West Africa side will be making just their second appearance in the AFCON and will have fond memories of their debut tournament when they pulled off an against-the-odds victory over African powerhouse Tunisia en route to the quarter-finals.
However, the Scorpions’ form in the buildup to this competition has been far from impressive, as they faced setbacks with defeats against Burundi and the Ivory Coast in their 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign at the end of last year.
In addition, their trip to the Ivory Coast for this competition was far from routine as their flight was forced to U-turn shortly after departure due to a lack of oxygen in the aircraft, which some players have said felt like a near-death experience.
Nevertheless, Tom Saintfiet’s side are present and will relish the chance to serve as giant killers again this year.
Goalkeepers Boulaye Dia and Seny Dieng were late withdrawals from the Senegal squad, and the pair have been replaced by Lorient’s Bamba Dieng and Alfred Gomis.
After leaving the field just 32 minutes into the match against Bournemouth on New Year’s Eve, many felt that Tottenham Hotspur’s Pape Matar Sarr would be ruled out for this competition, but the midfielder has since recovered and should line up in defensive midfield role.
Mane will captain the team and lead the line, while former Chelsea teammates Edouard Mendy and Koulibaly will be crucial figures in the backline for the Teranga lions.
For Gambia, teenager Yankuba Minteh has been tipped as one to watch in this competition. The forward joined Newcastle United last summer and was loaned out to Feyenoord, where he has been very impressive, having scored three goals and providing two assists in 12 league appearances while also notching his first-ever Champions League goal this season.
Senegal possible starting XI
Mendy; Koulibaly, Niakhate, Jakobs; Gueye, Kouyate, P Sarr, Diatta; I Sarr, Jackson, Mane
Gambia possible starting XI
Jobe; Sanneh, Colley, Janko, Mendi; Adams, Marreh, Ngum, Fadera, Barrow; Minteh
Copyright 2024 © kick442.com.
All rights reserved. This material and any other digital content on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, written in full or parts, without a written permission from our management
This site is not responsible for contents displayed by external sites